Henry Samuel Rowe was born in Shoreditch, London, on 18th August 1873. He was one of three children to Henry and Amelia Rowe. Henry Sr was a stonemason, who died in 1876, when Henry was only three years old.
Amelia moved her and her children to the Sussex Downs, and married again in 1883. Her new husband was John Herrington, and the couple went on to have three further children, Henry’s half-siblings. John was a farm labourer, and his stepson followed in his footsteps when he left school.
Henry soon sought other accomplishments, however, and, in October 1895, he joined the King’s Royal Rifles. During his twelve years’ service, he travelled the world, from Mauritius, to India, South Africa to Sri Lanka. He returned home in December 1903 serving on home soil until the end of his contract in 1907.
On 23rd April 1905, he married a widow, Amelia Routledge, in Brighton. There is no confirmation of the couple going on to have children.
Once demobbed, Henry found employment with the railways, and, by the time of the 1911 census, was working as a signalman. The document records him as boarding in a house in the village of Rudgwick, near Horsham; Amelia, meanwhile, was lodging with a family in South East London.
War was on the horizon, and, in August 1914, Henry volunteered. His time with the King’s Royal Rifles, stood him in good stead; after initially enlisting as a Private in the Royal Sussex Regiment, he was quickly promoted to Corporal and, by November 1914, had transferred to the Royal Engineers and attained the role of Sergeant.
Henry had spent just over a year in France, when he was shot in the right arm on 18th July 1916. Medically evacuated to England, he spent three months recuperating, before heading back into the fray in October the same year.
Henry served another eighteen months on the Front Line, before being admitted to hospital. His medical admission records show that he was suffering from “tremulous speech, confused… conversation, transitory admissions [sic?] of a grandiose type, outbursts of excitement, says he is a man of importance, childish, facile, simpleminded…” His condition was recorded as General Paralysis of the Insane (GPI), more commonly known these days as shellshock, and he was medically discharged from the Army on 4th September 1918.
Sadly, at this point Sergeant Rowe’s trail goes cold. He seems to have been hospitalised following his discharge, but the documents give conflicting suggestions about where he was admitted. Amelia was still living in South London, one record suggests Henry was in the Welsh Metropolitan Hospital in Whitchurch, near Cardiff. But, as he was buried in Worthing, West Sussex, it seems unlikely that he remained in Wales.
The cause of Henry’s passing is not evident either. There is no confirmation that GPI was to blame, but nothing to suggest it was not either. Whatever the cause, Sergeant Rowe died on 14th November 1918, three days after the conflict to which he had given so much had been brought to a close. He was 49 years old.
Henry Samuel Rowe lies at rest in the Broadwater Cemetery in Worthing, West Sussex.